Automated license plate reading technology has widely implemented across American cities, which has enabled driver tracking to an increasingly detailed extent. In 2016 and 2017, 173 local and federal entities scanned 2.5 billion license plates. To law enforcement, this allows cars to be flagged, added to a hot list, and easily tracked down when they pass one of the cameras. Critics, however, argue that the widespread implementation of the technology collects too much information about non-criminals that could be leaked to non-law enforcement. “In a nutshell, it’s like face recognition – except every single face comes in a standard format and is directly linkable to a government identity record…it allows mass tracking and because plates are issued by the government, we’re a bit desensitized to the idea that they’ll be tracked. It’s powerful stuff, and it’s not under control,” argued the Executive Director of the Center of Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law school. The information is widely shared across law enforcement entities at the local and federal levels. Thus, “every time you create an access point to your data, that’s another vector where it cane be used to gain information on people. If you’re the city of Sacramento and you’re sharing with 800 agencies, that’s 800 points of vulnerabilities,” argued digital rights organization Electric Frontier Foundation.
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